At least five people have been killed in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history.
a gunman firing a shotgun and armed smoke grenades who blasted his way through a newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, has killed four journalists and a staffer at Maryland’s capital newspaper, before he was quickly taken into custody by police who rushed into the building.
The gunman entered the Capital Gazette newspaper group on Thursday afternoon and opened fired through a glass door, looked for victims and then sprayed the newsroom with gunfire, police and a witness said.
Police said the suspect in custody is a white man in his late 30s acting Police Chief William Krampf of Anne Arundel County called it a targeted attack in which the gunman “looked for his victims.”
“This person was prepared today to come in, this person was prepared to shoot people,” Krampf said.
Journalists crawled under desks and sought other hiding places in what they described as minutes of terror as they heard the gunman’s footsteps and the repeated blasts of the shotgun as he moved about the newsroom.
Those killed included Rob Hiaasen, 59, the paper’s assistant managing editor and brother of novelist Carl Hiaasen. Carl Hiaasen said he was “devastated and heartsick” at losing his brother, “one of the most gentle and funny people I’ve ever known.” Also slain were Gerald Fischman 61, editorial page editor; features reporter Wendi Winters,65; sales assistant Rebecca Smith, 34 and reporter John McNamara, The newspaper said two other employees had non-life threatening injuries and were later released from a hospital.
Krampf said the gunman was a Maryland resident, but didn’t name him.
But Capital Gazette and the Baltimore Sun named the suspect as Jarrod Ramos, 38, of Laurel, about 25 miles (40 km) west of Annapolis, citing law enforcement.
Ramos had brought a defamation lawsuit in 2012 against Eric Hartley, formerly a staff writer and columnist with Capital Gazette, and Thomas Marquardt, then its editor and publisher, according to a court filing
Police spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure said officers arrived within about 60 seconds and took the gunman into custody without an exchange of gunfire. About 170 people were then evacuated from the building, which houses other offices, many leaving with their hands up as police and other emergency vehicles arrived.
At the White House, spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said: “There is no room for violence, and we stick by that. Violence is never tolerated in any form, no matter whom it is against.”
Hours later, investigators remained on the cordoned-off site early Friday as they sought clues to the gunman’s motives.
“The shooter has not been very forthcoming, so we don’t have any information yet on motive,” Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh said.